The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

Fruit on a Stick and Other Matters

with 4 comments

You’ll notice there’s no picture today. I’m not slacking off, I’ve just temporarily lost my camera. The one that has the pictures of the great joke that went into one of the Tiffin Twins’ lunches. (Check lunchbox notes. The joke’s there under the September 19 entry.) And pictures of this morning’s fruit on a stick.

I thought this idea was a little ridiculous, but I’m here to tell you that when you’re seven years old and you get three cocktail toothpicks with cantelope balls, watermelon balls and red grapes threaded on them, you are a happy man. So do try fruit on a stick. It’s sort of fun and not difficult. You need: three kinds of fruit, a melon baller and some toothpicks. The long-ish kind with the frilly ends are fun. A normal toothpick will also do. Stick the fruit on the toothpick and pack it all in a tupperware or other flat box. If you’re feeling like being a bit wild, put some marshmallows on too.

Other matters? Well, just one actually. Juice. Two of my boys are huge juice drinkers. And although juice does give you some vitamin C and possibly calcium (when it’s calcium- enriched anyway), it also costs a lot of calories for those benefits, benefits you could better get from a piece of fruit and some yogurt or milk (if you drink milk, that is). And so, knowing we’ve gotten into the habit of thinking of juice as the beverage you drink when you’re thirsty, I’ve been trying to get the boys to see it as a once a day, or once in a while drink. I don’t want them to think juice is evil. I just don’t want them to think it’s water.

Here’s how I went about changing this habit. First, over the summer, I started filling glass containers with water and putting them in the refrigerator. Four, to be exact. I chose glass because things seem to get colder in glass. And because it looks nicer. And because it doesn’t pick up weird smells after a while. Four containers might seem like a lot of water, but it’s not when it’s all you drink.

Throughout the summer, when the boys were hot and asked for juice, I’d say something vague like, “There’s no juice in there, but I think there’s ice cold water.” It was important not to make a big deal out of this. In this case, I think I might have pointed out only once or twice that water’s a great thing to drink and that juice is more a once a day kind of thing. And they would pour themselves a glass of water and really not say much more.

Gradually, juice has disappeared. Now, on the table at dinner, we have ice water, milk and wine. And they don’t seem to notice. For a while, one of the boys would ask for his glass of juice a day, but then he stopped after a few weeks, and a few times of me saying vaguely, I don’t think we’ve got any in the fridge.

Here are three things that make me think juice is no longer the drink of choice around here (1) I found a container of juice in the fridge and realized it had been in there for over a week. No one was drinking it. (2) Yesterday at dinner, there were orange slices on the table. One of the boys said, “can I have some orange juice,” and then corrected himself, “I mean orange slices.” It wasn’t for our benefit, or even conscious. He likes orange slices better than orange juice. (3) Another boy said, when I asked him if there’s juice available in the cafeteria at lunch if he’s thirsty (in fact, there is — they’re generous about that), “Oh, just pack me some water. Or if you forget, I use the water fountain.)

How about that? It’s a small thing, but it’s actually a big deal, to change one habit. I come away from this experience believe you can indeed help someone change a habit, if you do it one at a time, without judgment, and casually if you can, with a neutral explanation about why you’re doing it. You offer a pleasant alternative to the habit and then you persist.

What are we tackling next? Having dessert every night after dinner.

Written by bloglily

September 20, 2006 at 8:58 am

4 Responses

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  1. We also began to notice that our 2.6 year old was getting a little fixated on juice. Worried about his teeth, we took the route that if he’s thirsty, he’ll drink water. And if he isn’t, well, he doesn’t need to drink. Juice is now down to once a day.


    September 20, 2006 at 1:20 pm

  2. I think this is wonderful. I’ve often reminded myself not to “drink my calories” as it’s such an easy thing to do. What an excellent method you took — and so simple — to make juice drinking a more mindful act.


    September 20, 2006 at 2:27 pm

  3. Mum and Dad, good and bad, Thanks for coming by — it’s great to establish a habit like this while they’re still little. Habits are much easier to establish than they are to get rid of. (As most adults already know!)

    Hello Kate — Welcome to you too! The mindful act of eating matters — we talk sometimes about how you should always be sitting when you are eating. Sometimes, though, I catch myself doing just what I’m telling my children not to. Yikes.

    best, bl


    September 20, 2006 at 3:00 pm

  4. One thing we did with the grandkids is to only serve diluted juice, but when Gracie came along, she preferred water. She rarely drinks juice.

    What I did for me was to pour in roughly 10% juice and the rest water just to have the slight flavor of the juice and the rest be water. Regular juice now just seems too thick.

    I also use lime or lemon in water. Makes all the difference.

    Sue Crocker

    September 22, 2006 at 2:22 am

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